April 29, 2016

Peasant Yard in Valaská Village

Sedliacky dvor vo Valaskej (Peasant yard in Valaská Village) is one of the oldest and most valuable treasures by Jozef Murgaš (1864‒1929) in the collection of the Slovak National Library. This oil painting by Murgaš shows a light-filled village yard with a poor wooden cottage and farmyard buildings framing a courtyard with a cradle tripod at its center. Murgaš completed the painting in about 1895, while he was still a chaplain, after returning to Slovakia from his studies in Munich. The painting has no signature or copyright markings. Murgaš, who was a Roman Catholic priest, studied art in Budapest and Munich and created a number of altarpieces. He moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1896 to minister to local Slovaks and was a signatory to the 1918 Pittsburgh Agreement supporting the creation of Czechoslovakia. He is mostly remembered as an inventor, primarily as a pioneer of wireless telegraphy, a field in which he held a number of patents. He also invented the spinning reel for fishing rods.

Portrait of Ľudovít Štúr

Ľudovít Štúr (1815‒56) was a Slovak politician, philosopher, historian, linguist, writer, poet, journalist, editor, and pedagogue. He was the most important representative of Slovak national life in the first half of the 19th century and one of the leading members of Slovak National Uprising of 1848‒49. Štúr was also the key figure in codifying the modern Slovak language. Presented here is the earliest oil portrait of Štúr by the artist Jozef Božetech Klemens (1817‒83), based on an 1861 lithograph of Štúr by the Czech artist, actor, and director František Kolář (1829‒95). Klemens was an important painter, sculptor, engineer, and scientist of the 19th century and, like Štúr, a major figure in the Slovak national revival. His artistic significance rests primarily on his portrait paintings. In Slovakia, 2015 was declared “The Year of Ľudovít Štúr” to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.